Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Orion Dead

[Artemis speaks]
               The cornel-trees
               uplift from the furrows,               
               the roots at their bases
               strike lower through the barley-sprays.

               So arise and face me.
               I am poisoned with the rage of song.

                         I once pierced the flesh
                         of the wild-deer,
                         now am I afraid to touch
                         the blue and the gold-veined hyacinths?

                         I will tear the full flowers
                         and the little heads
                         of the grape-hyacinths.
                         I will strip the life from the bulb
                         until the ivory layers
                         lie like narcissus petals
                         on the black earth.

                         Arise, 
                         lest I bend an ash-tree
                         into a taut bow, 
                         and slay—and tear
                         all the roots from the earth.

               The cornel-wood blazes
               and strikes through the barley-sprays,
               but I have lost heart for this.

               I break a staff.
               I break the tough branch.
               I know no light in the woods.
               I have lost pace with the winds.

Credit


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 29, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“Orion Dead” appeared in Some Imagist Poets: An Anthology (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1915). 

Author


H. D.

Born in 1886, Hilda Doolittle was one of the leaders of the Imagist movement. She published numerous poetry collections, including Sea Garden (Constable and Company, 1916) and Helen in Egypt (Grove Press, 1961). She died in 1961.

Date Published: 1915-12-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/orion-dead